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Sync Companies Crushing on the 90s; Death of the 3 Minute Song; NHL Expands Sound to Grow its Audience
From The Sync Journal - Important News, Analysis and Trends in the Fast Changing Sync Licensing Industry
Sync Companies Crushing on the 90s
“Oh my God, we’re back again”
Yep, the sync industry has been deep into an 80s and 90s phase for quite a bit now. It’s showing no signs of slowing.
If you’re like me, you’ve seen numerous briefs for 80s and 90s pop vibes. I’ve also created some really cool classic 90s hip hop songs for some custom production companies that I work with.
Sometimes as a composer you worry about not keeping up with trends but the positive side of that is also true: everything comes back around. Maybe I should have held on to my Triton keyboard but I must say my Arturia Analog Lab V plugin is working really well at giving me those retro synth vibes.
Dua Lipa is probably the key artist at the top of this trend (at least in sync). Pretty much every retro pop brief I’ve seen includes her as a reference. And I appreciate that she’s created a style of pop that is both retro and modern. This is makes the trend more sustainable in my opinion, because as a producer, it’s actually harder to go back and recreate authentic vintage music when you’ve been focused on modern production techniques.
We discussed this trend in a recent CTRL Camp room on Clubhouse and one moderator made an interesting observation: they weren’t seeing as many retro requests on the R&B side. Personally, I’ve worked a brief for a BBD / Poison type of track but that’s the only one I’ve seen so far.
So let’s put this bug in the ears of the creative directors that we’re in touch with. How about some EnVogue, TLC, Destiny’s Child briefs?? Lauryn Hill, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Aaliyah?? Wow, I just got myself excited. I’m about to crank up Spotify as soon as I finish writing this!
If you’ve get a brief like this call me. I might do the music for free :)
(editor’s note: Eric will NOT create the music for free. Please disregard the previous statement)
Death of the 3 Minute Song
I think the 3 minute song might be dying folks.
I think there are a number of forces working together causing this to happen.
TikTok might be the biggest influence on shortened song lengths but the trend was occurring on Spotify even before TikTok took over.
Let me back up a little bit and give some context for how we got here (in my opinion and based on my own research - feel free to message me if you can provide some additional context).
Let’s go back to when music was made on vinyl. The three minute format supposedly started with the creation of 78 rpm vinyl records because that’s about how much music they held. This format remained as we transitioned to the smaller 45rpm singles and it continued through the modern music era for possibly a variety of reasons.
But now, a number of market forces are changing that.
First, there’s Spotify. Some have theorized that their low streaming rates have incentivized artists to pack more shorter songs onto their albums.
With Spotify, a person needs to listen to at least 30 seconds in order for the stream to count and the song needs to get enough full listens in order for it to qualify for the more notable playlists. But there’s no benefit to making the song 5 minutes long when a 3 minute or 2 min and 30 second song will do.
TikTok has added to the “short song” pressure. While TikToks can now be as long as 3 minutes, they started at 15 seconds and eventually increased to 60 seconds before their current long format.
But many content creators still create 15 second content. In fact, I recently came across a content agency that puts out briefs looking for 15 second original songs! Yep, you read that right. They’re not cutting down full length songs and making 15 second edits. No, they are looking for full songs that are just 15 seconds in length.
I learned this while watching a webinar with Eric Kalver who is the music supervisor at an agency called Movers+Shakers. They work with brands to create TikTok campaigns. If you’ve questioned whether TikTok is really as big as some say, consider that there are entire agencies solely devoted to helping brands create TikTok campaigns. If you want to see the replay of the Eric Kalver webinar, register for free at the site of sync agency What Up Pitches who hosted the event.
I must admit, as a producer I was skeptical. Can you even convey an entire musical thought in only 15 seconds? Turns out you can. After listening to a few examples from brands in the space, there appears to be a solid formula that works on the vertical video medium: 5 seconds for a tension based intro and then right into a catchy singable hook. That might leave room for a short vamp or tiny instrumental. And… scene!
If you want to study some examples, just explore the many videos written to some of the following hashtags that were created by and for brands.
Spotify and TikTok aren’t the only two influences leading to shorter song lengths. But, they may be the two biggest. Take a look at the charts on Spotify. You may see the occasional 4 or 5 minute song (Olivia Rodrigo’s Driver’s License is just over 4 minutes). But many of the songs are less than 3. Lil Nas X’s Montero is just 2:18 and many of Olivia Rodrigo’s other songs are less than 2:30.
Even for my own music, I tend to write songs less than 3 minutes long. Of course, if it’s for a custom brief, many of those pieces can be less than a minute if they are for an ad or for a TV project. But even for songs that can be released commercially, the shorter format has become the norm.
I was speaking with some other composers in a CTRL Camp room and no one on the stage could remember the last time they did an actual bridge. As for me, I tend to do more break downs or vamps between the 2nd chorus and the outro.
So things, as always, are changing and we must change with it. If you end up writing any cool 15 second songs, I’d love to hear them :)
NHL Expands its Sound to Grow its Audience
I’ve seen the NHL in the news recently after a number of new marketing deals have been announced and it made me curious about how they’re using music to grow their audience.
What really got my attention is an article from Rolling Stone describing a new partnership between the league and legendary music producer Timbaland’s Beatclub.
Beatclub will be tasked with creating exclusive custom soundtracks for high-profile hockey games. The online music hub seems to be in the midst of a protracted rollout. But the online marketplace looks to be the connection point between music creators and industry connectors.
That said, it’s not the details of that deal that got my attention.
What I find most interesting is that the NHL, whose music was typically and consistently rock-leaning, is partnering with a company entrenched in the hip hop community.
It begs the question, is the league making a conscious decision to broaden its musical soundscape? And, does this open up more opportunities for hip hop and R&B artists to place their music in the leagues programming?
I raised this question in a recent CTRL Camp room on Clubhouse and I was surprised to find out that a some of our very own members and guests recently placed songs with the NHL.
Gilde Flores is a producer who does a lot of work with Beatclub and he was involved in some of the sound design and production that ultimately landed in some of the Beatclub NHL promo materials.
Beatclub also has VIP relationships with some creators. These VIPs are able to submit music for licensing or artist placement. One of those artists is my CTRL Camp cohost, Deraj. Beatclub reached out to Deraj and due their efforts, landed his song Bang on ESPN’s Quest For The Cup.
And finally, anthemic hip hop artist, Vo Williams’ song Ready Set was adopted as the theme for the Tampa Bay Lightning and they carried it with them through the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals.
So, needless to say, it looks like the NHL definitely does Hip Hop now. They’ve aligned with some heavy hitters and hopefully, doors are now open for more creators to enter into that space.